Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Dangers Of The Internet

Today I'm not going to talk about the (very real) dangers of kids watching p*rn (something that would be forbidden in any civilised country), but rather about a more trivial matter: various online based self-help ministries which promise to drastically change your life/marriage/financial position etc for the better.

While there is obviously nothing wrong with trying to improve your quality of life, the problem with internet is its anonymity which necessarily means that the advice you get is (and should be) general only. For instance, you can find a lot of info about health and how to improve it, some of which can be really very good, but it hardly can substitute medical treatment when needed.

The same is true about child-rearing and marriage advice. There is no universal, one fits all technique applicable to raising children because they are all different and may need different approaches. More so, being Christians, we know that we all live in a fallen world and share a sinful nature. It means that you can do everything by the book and be the best husband or wife you possibly can, and still your marriage will fail.

Of course, there are some general principles which are too often disregarded nowadays and which, if followed consistently, generally tend to give better results than modern overly permissive parenting, but when we look at the Scriptures (and real life situations) we see that even children of the best parents can go astray (Adam, Abel and Cain; Noah and his sons etc). It doesn't mean, of course, that we shouldn't be trying to do our best, just that any manual which promises you 100% guarantee of best results is disingenuous.

When it comes to marriage, I have stressed many times that folks should be very careful in choosing a spouse. "Falling in love" is not a reason to get married when your future spouse exhibits immorality or abusive tendencies, and as Christians we shouldn't be engaging in "missionary dating". Don't marry unbelievers or people whose values are diametrically opposite to your own and who are unwilling to adjust.

Yet many people do exactly that and when their fairy tale starts falling apart, they turn to internet gurus for advice, and much too often, validation. Herein lies the problem, though: internet is not a real life. Instead of trying to use some fad technique (which are too often based on manipulation) why not ask advice from people around you, those you trust, like your parents, siblings or other relatives, and of course, your local church. It's especially true because different denominations will disagree about things like divorce and remarriage, for instance.

Yet, there is a category of people who apparently think that they are above such things like submitting to your local church authority, forgetting that it's the way NT church is supposed to function. There is at least, some degree of accountability in real community, there is none online. A pastor, priest or elder has undergone some training which includes dealing with conflicts and difficult marriages, yet anyone can set up a blog/twitter account/YouTube channel, you name it and start giving personal advice which is really a bad idea since it's impossible to get a clear picture of someone's situation in the relative anonymity of the internet.

Especially a lot of marriage advice circulating through various "spheres" is unbiblical, based on heathen understanding of human sexuality  and very possibly, dangerous. A lot of it comes from a weird fetish of some Americans for extreme libertarian ideas and opposition to every form of the government including church government. Yet, while the ideologues of this position basically are in rebellion against authority themselves, strangely they expect their wives and children to be in total subjection and treat them like Kings they are.

It just doesn't work this way, sorry guys. Little House on the Prairie recreated in modern times may sound awfully romantic, but in real life people are born into families, communities, tribes and countries, not into some weird Christian version of an Ayn Rand utopia (who was not even a Christian).

The rigid concept of marriage which many of these people promote and constant attacks on singles (unbiblical as well: I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I ...He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 3) actually cause a lot of harm and portray a caricature of Chritian marriage.

It's like some of them  took the worst  progressive anti-Christian propaganda and decided to use it as the basis for their teachings (isn't it called "agree and amplify"). There is also too often very little wisdom demonstrated in addressing social problems of our time. Being a jerk isn't a necessary pre-condition to being a right-wing or traditional. Sometimes a jerk is just a jerk and is better avoided even if technically on "our" side. 

Please use discernment when being online:)


  1. You make some excellent points here. There seems to be some weird objection to the idea that the best people to offer counsel and advice are those who know you and know something about your life.

    Whether it's Titus 2 (which I believe is an organic type of mentoring not the establishment of an official "ministry"), or counsel offered to men, there is no substitute for relationships.

    And I also agree that evo-psych is a terrible basis for Christian marital counseling but it seems to be the favored source in some corners of the web.

  2. Thanks, Elspeth! Unfortunately, I believe that nowadays people are getting increasingly lonely, and may have no one to turn to for advice. If one is not blessed with family and good friends, getting involved in the church and local community could be probably a better answer than looking for solutions to all your problems online...

  3. true. Local advice is needed. Yes, there are many advisers out there who say....avoid all public schools in america because xyz....and I'm sitting here "on the internet" thinking about that one family that lost their father in a car-accident and then teenage son was outgrowing his bed room, while three others were sleeping in a closet in the mother's room....privacy of more value? or shall we say...hunt down the family until they have no idea what an education actually happens to be (basic numbers and letters do not bite...and privacy is a blessing).... local educators are there for a reason folks.

  4. I would say it should be the parents' decision how to educate their children.

    1. Amen! God placed children in a family unit not a "village". Parents know their child's needs far better than anyone.

  5. Housewife OutdoorsMarch 6, 2020 at 9:10 AM

    I should like to add people should be very careful with all sorts of "youtube preachers". We have no idea who and what they are. In my country, we are very lucky when it comes to lutheran priests: they are highly educated people and selected with a dense comb. And they are also trained to give what is called "pastoral care", which is almost like therapy/counceling, but from spiritual point of view.

    Of course not all of them are good preachers, and some of them are women, but still it is safe to speak to people like that. You know they are professionals.

    BTW have you actually ready Ayn Rand? I think I read half a page and gave up...

  6. No, but I've read enough about her philosophy:)

    As for preachers, it's a denominational issue, but I didn't mean them as much as various self-help bloggers in business of giving relationship advice. If I listen to a preacher online I will choose one whose theology aligns with my own or at least, not very different from what my church teaches (I know my catechism:)